Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Tragic Irony of Fahrenheit 451 :: Fahrenheit 451 Essays

The Tragic Irony of Fahrenheit 451 " 'Happiness is important. Fun is everything. And yet I kept sitting there saying to myself, I'm not happy, I'm not happy.' " (70). Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most famous of Ray Bradbury's novels. Originally published in 1953, it portrays a futuristic world in the midst of a nuclear war. The totalitarian government of this future forbids its people to read books or take part in any activity which promotes individual thought. The law against reading books is presumably fairly new, and the task of destroying the books falls to the "firemen." One of these firemen is Guy Montag, the main character of the book. Montag and his crew raid homes, burning any books they find before a crowd of onlookers. Regardless of this, happiness is of central importance in this future world. Unfortunately, Montag is unhappy with his life for most of the book. Montag's unhappiness is ironic until his self-awareness turns it tragic. The ideal of this future man is to be happy. That is all that is wanted. This idea can be exemplified by the following quotes: " 'Happiness is important. Fun is everything" (70). " 'What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard about it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation?' " (65). " 'We have mobilized a million men. Quick victory is ours if the war comes . . . .' 'Ten million men mobilized, but say one million. It's happier.' " (91). As you can see, the people of this world only want to be happy. They don't care about anything else, such as politics or the economy. They only want to be happy. At the beginning of the book, Montag appears happy. He is seen burning a house and is thoroughly enjoying himself. At one point, he thinks, "It was a pleasure to burn" (19). A little later, he thinks "he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark" (19). It seems now that he is completely happy with his life. After the house is burned, Montag begins to walk home and is met by a young girl named Clarisse McClellan.

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